Epazote – The Bean Seasoning Herb
Epazote is of the family Amaranthaceae also known as the amaranth family. There are many forms of this herb, but the one used most in Mexican cooking has an acrid aroma that smells like petroleum and a bitter taste that is an acquired taste for those who like the flavor of the herb.
The plant is native to Mexico and tropical regions of Central and South America and can be found growing wild.
The herb which is toxic in large quantities was used as a medicinal herb by the Aztecs.
Although indigenous to Mexico, the plant has been adopted by the United States growing wild in various places.
The plant is found commercially available in markets in Texas and other parts of the Southwestern United States, but most often found in dried form in Mexican markets.
Epazote is primarily used in Mexico as a seasoning for black beans due to its anti-flatulence properties that help to fight gas that commonly comes from eating beans. The herb is also used in moles and quesadillas. The dried leaves are also used for tea.
When used in large quantities that can reach toxic levels, it has been stated that the herb can produce dizziness, deafness, sweating, paralysis and death.
For additional information about epazote click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
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